Christina Jean's Story
About the Founder
It started way back when I was 8 years old.
I was so lucky to grow up in a creative household.
My Mom can create anything, her biggest love is cross stitch but she taught me how to sew. She grew up making a lot of her clothes and was always helping us make something crafty. My Dad is so talented I can't even list all of his skills but he designs and builds houses and is a farmer.
Farm life is the best life, country girl forever!
I have a deep love for the Earth, growing up on a farm you learn to love and respect her like she is living and breathing which she is and we tend to forget this. I will always be a country girl at heart, and I will always be most creative when all I can see is fields for miles and miles.
Creativity surrounded me growing up.
My grandparents on my Mom's side were also very creative, by the time I came into this world my Grandma was a renowned weaver and my Grandpa was a wood worker. So I defiantly was exposed to my share of creativity and the things you can do with your hands.
I had to give you this background because it really sets the stage for my mindset growing up, my parents never set limits on my imagination and let me wander and create and play pretend to my hearts content.
I joined 4-H and really started to learn new skills.
When I was 8 I joined 4-H, which was literally one of my favorite things in my childhood memories. I took craft classes, sewing classes, and even raised sheep to show and sell at the county fair. I took part in Fashion Review every year and won awards for my sewing skills and unique designs.
Sewing was my favorite things to do, creating things with my hands with beautiful fabrics, yes please.
Sewing was my favorite, well maybe the visits to the fabric stores to browse fabrics and pick out patterns was my favorite but anyway I got really good at sewing, it came naturally to me. (To this day my customers tell me how professional my bags look). I take pride in my craftsmanship now just as much as I did then. Back then I was winning awards and now I am pleasing my customers.
Senior Project: Design my Prom Dress & Learn to Draw People
In high school we had to do a Senior Project and I chose to design and make my Prom dress and one of the new skills I wanted to learn was how to draw people so I took an adult art class that happened to be offered and learned my new skill. I already knew how to sew but this time I drew my own dress, created my own patterns and made my own design come to life. With my Mom's help. Let's be clear she was my mentor through this process, my co-creater and my cheer leader! I won best dressed at Prom so it all worked out lovely!
What do you want to be when you grow up? A Fashion Designer
When my friends were wanting to be teachers and firefighters my dream was to become a Fashion Designer. I wanted to open up my own boutique with my designs. Thank you to my parents for never saying this was not ok, I always felt like I could dream however I wanted. I did grow up with a good work ethic living on a farm and I did grow up with the idea I needed a job but it could be whatever job I chose to put my mind to. No limits were put on me other than to do my best and work hard at whatever I chose.
How did this idea even come into my head? Seventeen (the magazine.)
I grew up in rural Northern California close to Tahoe, there was no fashion, we had to drive an hour to get to a store other than the local market. We were isolated out on the farm in some ways too, I didn't live in town. I think the idea that I could be a Fashion Designer came from getting the magazine Seventeen, remember that magazine?
Off to college for my Business Degree...whaaat? You say.
Yes, its true, coming from a small town and being very naive in many ways I went to Sonoma State and decided to get a business degree first so I could open up my own business I wanted to be an entrepreneur after all.I quickly lost sight of that with art classes, singing classes, music classes, French classes and wound up majoring in French with a Minor in Economics and signing in my school choir. It was now time for Fashion Design school, even though I loved French I still did not want to be a teacher I wanted to Design clothes!
I had to pay my own way the second round: Fashion Design School
I had help with my first education but the second round, Fashion Design school I did not, so I moved to San Francisco, went to City College and got two certificates in Fashion Design and Fashion Technology and set out to get an internship because that's what you do to really learn the ropes. I worked in retail, I worked as a visual display, I worked as a hostess at only French restaurants so I could keep up my French to put myself through school and live in San Francisco.
My first internship was a dream come true with Christopher Collins
My first job with a designer was with a start up Fashion Brand in San Francisco called Christopher Collins he was a designer starting his own line of women wear. It was just him and his best friend and then me who did everything. I did anything and everything they needed done and learned so much. I ended up being the lead on production since I knew how garments were made and put together (thanks Mom) so I went around getting fabric cut, checking our samples for fit and quality and overseeing the production of each garment from first sample to last. This was so so fun, but I needed to get a job where I was paid a living salary so I had to leave eventually.
Next stop Athleta (before it was bought by the GAP)
After looking and looking for a job that could pay me (and working for my Dad on his farm while I applied all over) for 6 months I finally got a break as a design assistant at Athleta when they were still in the beginnings in Petalum (before they even moved to their bigger building in Petaluma and way before the GAP bought them).
Next Stop GAP Outlet Baby, I know but it was all about getting the skills.
After 2 years doing so many things at Athleta I decided I wanted to learn technical design, I was really interested in pattern creation and the fit of clothing especially athletic wear so I took a job doing just that for GAP Outlet but for baby clothes. This was an odd place to start I did not even have kids or want them yet. I met some really cool people though and learned the skills I needed to move into womens clothing.
Next Stop Lucy, owned by Northface.
This was closet to my dream job (in corporate anyway), I worked as a freelancer which was great before I was hired full-time but I learned all about women's athletic wear and since I have been an avid runner, biker, snowboarder and overall active person since grade school this was right up my alley. Where yoga pants and cute tops to work and then make patterns and fit them all day. Yes please!
I hit burnout in 2015. Running from place to place never really feeling valued and always wondering when I would be able to make enough money to feel like I had extra, the drama of a workplace with all women (just stating the truth). Seeing all the fabric waste for years and years working for large companies. It was just too much and I realized I had lost sight of my dream while pursing experience and knowledge. I had gotten that, time to get out and move on with my dream.
Pregnant with postpartum issues (PPD).
I was married by this time and had my first baby in 2016, I expericed a horrible birth and emergency C-section, lucky my baby and I were fine after a 36 birth. I was left with postpartum depression of some kind as well which I had no notion I even had for a year, I just thought, wow being a Mom is crazy hard and maybe I'm just not made for this job?? I didn't enjoy it as I thought I would, everything seemed so heavy and difficult. We found out later I was suffering from PPD but having never had anything like that happen in my life I was totally unaware and was so alone because I didn't know what to do or even what to explain. When I finally figured this out I was very open about my struggles which helped. Thank God for my husband who pulled me through this time with endless love and support even while being a Police Officer he gave me and our baby his all.
I was lost and needing to be found where was the girl I had been? So I started with hand lettering.
Hand lettering was a quiet, creative thing I could do when my baby was napping. It didn't take any set up or many tools. I had always loved calligraphy so this new craze sweeping Instagram was a perfect place to start re-discovering myself and finding something that brought me happiness unrelated to being a Mom.
I found Peggy Dean from the Pigeon Letters and her bright sunshiney personality online and I followed everything she did. When she came to Oakland to teach a class I may have been the first to sign up, all I knew was that I needed to get out of the house, talk to other adults and do something creative. Thank you Peggy! She set me on the path to creating artwork more and more. Perfecting my skill, buying new pens and I loved it so much I started to make stickers and other fun stiff with those skills.
PlannerCon was where I had my Aha Moment!
Read the story about how my Brand started HERE.
Starting my own Denim Bag Brand in 2019
I have been a stay at home Mom since I had my son in 2016, I started my handmade denim bag brand in 2019 with a 3 year old and a 3 month old. Denim pouches made from pre-loved denim jeans with cute and fun prints on the inside was my starter idea and I went full steam ahead with it. I had an online store open by the beginning of 2020 which became my only source of income when C hit. By 2022 I had made 100's of bags, saved 100's of jeans from landfill and was making a small income from my business. I knew I wanted to make more of a positive impact on the handbag industry and serve women like me who were looking for something different. I also really wanted to reclaim my time, I was working quite a bit and not having much to show for it I felt. My customers kept me going I have many loyal and wonderful customers so shout out to YOU if you are one. You made the difference in my business and it was so fun to serve you and make you one of a kind bags!
In 2022 I took Immersion the Surface Pattern Design Course from Bonnie Christine, to hone my patterns skills to give my customers completely unique products.
I needed to up my skill level in surface pattern design, for my handbag company, I wanted to have patterns and prints for my bags that were unquiet to my brand and I felt this would help me be able to scale. I also wanted to learn how I could create some passive income because a handmade unique bag brand was taking too much of my time. I wanted to reclaim my time so I could be with my kids. I wanted time freedom, more location freedom and show my kids that living out a dream is possible with hard work, persistence and consistency.
Surface Pattern Design changed the way I think.
It changed the way I thought about my business and how I can make some changes to make it more efficient and more aligned with my current goals. Getting clear on what you want NOW (not last year, not when you were 20) is KEY.
Currently in 2023 I am making art and getting prototypes made for my handbag collection coming this year!
I hope you stick with me on this journey and I hope I have inspired you in some small way with my story. You can see its been a long one, over 20 years right here. I have learned so much along the way and have a lot more to learn. Learning is one of my favorite things in this world. Antiques and cinnamon toast is another but that will have to be for another day. You can read more about my journey with Surface Pattern design too! Click HERE.
And now you know...the rest of the story.